2023 Worlds Preview: Team France
Team France returns to the top level and will battle to avoid relegation once again.
#TeamFranceHockey #MissionBleue #AllezLesBleus
After winning the 2022 Division 1A tournament at home in Angers, Team France won promotion to the top division tournament for the second time in team history.
As the newly promoted team, Les Bleues will play in Group B. They will play against Finland, Hungary, Germany, and Sweden for the right to play against a Group A team in the quarterfinals.
Forward Julia Mesplede, who plays at the University of Vermont, suffered an injury which left her unable to join the team. She was replaced by Shana Casanova.
The IIHF allows teams to bring three goaltenders, though only two can be entered onto a game sheet. Justine Crousy Théode is not listed on France’s official roster, but she is listed with the team and can be made available if one of the other goalies is unable to play.
Justine Crousy Théode (Reims, FFHG D2)
Caroline Lambert (HC Thurgau, SWHL)
Margaux Mameri (Evry/Viry, FFHG Féminin Élite and FFHG D2 and FFHG U20, and HPK, Naisten Liiga)
Léa Berger (Cegep St Laurent, QCHL)
Perrine Lavorel (Annecy, FFHG U17)
Sophie Leclerc (Valence, FFHG Féminin Élite)
Athéna Locatelli (IFK Helsinki, Naisten Liiga)
Louanne Mermier (Cegep A. Laurendeau, QCHL)
Marie-Pierre Pelissou (Bomo Thun, SWHL)
Lucie Quarto (Cergy, FFHG Féminin Élite U17 and FFHG U17)
Mia Väänänen (McGill University, USports)
Chloé Aurard (Northeastern University, NCAA DI)
Jade Barbirati (Cegep John Abbot, QCHL)
Lore Baudrit (Linköping HC, SDHL)
Shana Casanova (Cegep St Laurent, QCHL and Entente Hockey 68, FFHG U20)
Lisa Cedelle (Cegep St Laurent, QCHL and Anglet, FFHG U17)
Margot Desvignes (Falun IF, Swedish Division 1)
Estelle Duvin (Bomo Thun, SWHL)
Betty Jouanny (Fribourg, SWHL B)
Manon le Scodan (Cegep John Abbot, QCHL)
Emma Nonnenmacher (Cegep Dawson, QCHL)
Clara Rozier (IFK Helsinki, Naisten Liiga)
Anaé Simon (Caen, FFHG U17)
Three to Watch
The biggest name in French hockey right now is Chloé Aurard. The 24-year-old has just completed her sixth and final season at Northeastern University. During her NCAA career, Aurard racked up Hockey East awards, including the 2020 Beanpot MVP, and finished in the top ten for career goals, points, and game-winning goals for the Huskies. On the international stage, she has played at the senior level for Team France since she was 16. Last year, she scored four goals and four assists in eight games help France win promotion to the top division, and was named Best Forward at the tournament.
Also playing on the top line for France will be Clara Rozier. Another longtime senior team member, Rozier is a high-scoring forward who currently plays with HIFK, with whom she won the Naisten Liiga championship this year in Finland. This season she had 24 goals and 49 points in 34 games in the regular season and added 13 more points in the nine-game playoffs.
Leading les Bleues this year as captain will be veteran forward Lore Baudrit. First playing with Team France at the 2008 Division 1 World Champsionship, the 31-year-old Baudrit brings experience from a number of professional leagues as well as the Canadian collegiate CIS league, the precursor to USports, with whom she won a championship in 2016.
Five players on this year’s senior team were members of the 2019 U18 team that won France promotion from Division 1B to Division 1A in that age group. That’s the kind of talent rising from the junior level to the senior level that can make a difference and help a team improve its overall world ranking.
From that group, I’d keep an eye on Jade Barbirati. A forward currently playing at John Abbott College in Québec, the 19-year-old had 15 goals and 24 assists for 39 points in 29 games this season. Last year, she scored five goals in four games at the U18 level, and one goal in four games to help France's senior team win promotion to the top division.
Team France’s first run at the top division tournament was short-lived. They won promotion in 2018, then managed only a single overtime win in 2019 and found themselves demoted back to Division 1A. When the COVID pandemic froze movement outside of the top division for two years, they were stuck, until 2022 when they took the first opportunity to make it back up. This year, the IIHF has announced that the bottom two teams at the tournament will be relegated. Les Bleues will fight to stay up.
Team France has played two tune-up games prior to their first real tournament game. They beat a team of players from the University of Toronto 4-3 in overtime last week, and lost 3-2 in the final minutes of regulation to Team Japan (who are newly promoted to Group A) on Sunday.
France’s hardest game will likely be their first versus Team Finland. Historically challengers for the podium, a series of stumbles saw Team Finland demoted to Group B last year. They will not be pulling any punches in their quest to make it back to Group A and win a medal.
The next day, France will play versus Team Hungary. Hungary won promotion from Division 1A the year after France, and have managed to stay in the top division since then. These teams have played each other a ton over the years in lower divisions, with France usually a few steps ahead. Perhaps we’ll see some echoes of those competitions from years past as each team fights to stay up.
France’s third game will be against Team Germany. Germany has had a place in the top division for a long time, only dipping to D1A twice since Worlds began in 1990. This will be the first ranking game between these two countries since 2016. That year in D1A, the teams tied on points, but Germany beat France 5-0 in their only head-to-head game. Germany won promotion and hasn’t looked back since.
The final game of the group round will be against Team Sweden. These two teams were demoted to Division 1A together back in 2019. Sweden finished higher than France, though, which meant that when Team Russia was expelled, Sweden competed with the top division again and earned the chance to stay for this year, while France had to win its promotion again. After their single game at the 2019 tournament (2-1 Sweden), this will be the second ranked game between these two countries.
The games will be broadcast in France by Sport en France.
Game 1 against Finland will be at 5:00pm on April 5.
Game 2 against Hungary will be at 1:00am on April 7, and will be broadcasted again later that day at 10:00am and 9:00pm.
Game 3 against Germany will follow the same schedule, on first at 1:00am on April 10, then shown again at 10:00am and 9:00pm.
Game 4 against Sweden will be at 9:00pm on April 11.
In Canada, games will be broadcast by TSN.
Game 1 against Finland will be at 11:00am on April 5, and broadcast on TSN5.
Game 2 against Hungary will be at 7:00pm on April 6, and streamed on TSN+.
Game 3 against Germany will be at 7:00pm on April 9, and broadcast on TSN1.
Game 4 against Sweden will be at 3:00pm on April 11, and broadcast on TSN5.